Tennessee Tourism & Travel
Senator Thompson recognizes the need to protect tourism and travel in Tennessee, and has spoken on the topic to groups such as the Knoxville Tourist Bureau and the Tri-Cities Economic Summit. And he backs up his words with action.
In 1998, the Senate passed legislation to bring more air services to under served communities such as Chattanooga and Tri-Cities. "Most people agree that airline deregulation, on balance, has produced substantial consumer benefits," Thompson said. "On the other hand, studies show that one-third of our country's mid-sized communities -- including Chatanooga and Tri-Cities -- actually face higher fares than ever before, some as much as 20 percent higher. This bill would offer creative solutions for many of the air-service problems that have been identified, without imposing burdensome federal regulations on the airline industry." Although the House and Senate failed to agree on this bill last year, Senator Thompson continues to press for passage of legislation that addresses these problems, which are so important to Tennessee's small and mid-sized communities.
In June 1997, Senators Thompson and Frist wrote a letter to the Senate Appropriations Subcommittee on Transportation requesting support for construction of a ?World Runway? at Memphis International Airport. Due to their efforts, the Senate passed language in December 1997 requesting a committment from the Federal Aviation Administration for full funding of this major project. The final victory was realized at a ground breaking ceremony at the airport in April of 1998.
The 11,000 foot runway is expected to be complete in 2000. Thompson said: "With the World Runway project complete, Memphis will truly become a national and international distribution hub. I am confident that this expansion, allowing non-stop flights to Asia, will create jobs and boost economic growth throughout the Mid-South."
Concerned about a strike which caused 27,500 workers to be laid off in one day and crippled nearly half of Tennessee's air service, Thompson cosponsored a Senate resolution calling on the president to end the Northwest Airlines strike.
When the Senate considered the federal highway bill, Thompson worked to make sure Tennessee received the federal investment it needs for safe roads and bridges. In the past, Tennessee motorists have paid significantly more in federal highway user taxes than the federal government gave back for construction, repairs and maintenance. Thompson made sure that Tennessee drivers will get a fair share, and a commitment to safer roads. Under the bill, Tennessee will receive a total of $3.56 billion over six years for highways, a 62 percent increase over the $2.2 billion the state received over the past six years.
Additionally, Thompson has worked hard to secure Senate funding for improved transportation projects throughout the state, including a riverfront project in Memphis, a light rail system in downtown Knoxville, a traffic and parking guidance system for the Nashville area, and a commuter rail in Nashville .
Understanding the need for regional cooperation in the pursuit of sustained economic development, Thompson also helped to secure funding for the Kentucky Lock, which allows barge access to the Tennessee River from Kentucky.
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